Although this blog focuses on the Gallows Hill Neighborhood, including Blubber Hollow and Witchcraft Heights, other parts of Salem will be highlighted from time to time as interest strikes. Taking a tour of The Point neighborhood of Salem, I was astounded by the multiple colorful huge (yuge…) murals dotting the neighborhood. The Point is the Hispanic neighborhood of Salem (barrio el punto), mostly Caribbean, densely populated and generally shunned by tourists and visitors alike due to its perceived high crime rate, and let’s face reality, due to its ethnicity, to avoid more loaded words.
But The Point was long ethnic, French-Canadian (Quebecois) drawn to the area by the promise of jobs at the Naumkeag Steam Cotton Plant, aka Pequot Mills, along the shores of The Point (quartier le point). Full of crowded tenements, the neighborhood and the adjoining Pequot Mills plant was annihilated by the Great Salem Fire of 1914. Both the housing and the plant were soon rebuilt and flourished until the New England textile industry moved lock, stock and barrel to the American South, primarily the Carolinas, a diaspora echoed decades later with the move of the American textile industry to East Asia. Pequot Mills survived and was repurposed to the mixed use Shetland Park, in operation to this day, a shining example of industrial rehabilitation and visible from anywhere along Salem Harbor. The Quebecois moved to more suburban areas and puertorriqueños and dominicanos replaced them.
A walk through the The Point is highly recommended, to take in the flavorful aromas of Caribbean cooking, to view the many flourishing ethnic storefronts and bodegas, and most of all, for the murals, several of which are posted here.